‘Ballrooms of Brown County’ exhibit at MMHF

Staff photo by Fritz Busch Key players in the Ballrooms of Brown County traveling exhibit at the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame (MMHOF) from left, MMHOF Executive Director Nate Sperl, Brown County Historical Society (BCHS) Executive Director Kathleen Backer and BCHS volunteer researcher Dan Groebner. The exhibit of enlarged photos and posters can be viewed during regular summer MMHF hours, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at 27 N. Broadway.

NEW ULM — Music and dance lovers who enjoy reliving and sharing memories of the 1930s to 1990s or enjoy hearing stories about those days, are invited to visit the “Ballrooms of Brown County” exhibit at the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame this summer.

The traveling exhibit was coordinated by research volunteer Dan Groebner of New Ulm, developed by MMHS Executive Director Kathleen Backer with help from MMHS Executive Director Nate Sperl.

Last September and October, the BCHS celebrated the historical Ballrooms of Brown County at its gala fundraiser, at the Lunch and a Bite of History noon event and at a Oktoberfest open house.

Groebner presented his ballroom talk/slide-show four more times for organizations and residential facilities. Continued interest in the ballroom project led to the development of the traveling exhibit.

“After sharing the project at the gala, and Lunch and a Bite of History at the museum last year, it was so popular, he got invitations to continue to show the project elsewhere,” Backer said. “At the same time, the Historical Society looked for a way to package information for traveling exhibits. Dan had a relationship with the MMHF from his ballroom research, so it was decided to begin a traveling exhibit there.”

Backer said the intent of the BCHS is to develop relationships to preserve history for future generations.

“It’s a great partnership. We’ll reach out to the rest of the county and area to see if we can display the exhibit and like subject matter over the years,” Backer said. “We’re excited about the first exhibit at the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame.”

Groebner said he’s a member of a “glorious” team of volunteers at the BCHS.

“While doing project research, we talked to people who knew the musicians and dancers at the ballrooms,” Groebner said. “Not very far into the project, I walked from the museum to the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame and found a group of people very willing and able to help me. It was a very cooperative experience. I want to express gratitude to everyone.”

Minnesota Music Hall of Fame Executive Director Nate Sperl said it was a perfect partnership from the start.

“I trusted it would be good, but it exceeded my expectations,” Sperl said. “We’re very lucky to have very supportive people in the community who go above and beyond. The exhibit will be here through the fall. We’re really thrilled to have it. Many people come in and make nice comments about it. I’d like to thank everyone for all their help.”

The exhibit can be viewed during summer MMHF hours of 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday through Saturday at 27 N. Broadway.

The BCHS is interested in offering future traveling exhibits and talk/slide-show presentations of the Ballrooms of Brown County to interested organizations. For more information, call 507-233-2618 or email director@browncountyhistorymn.org

Fritz Busch can be emailed at fbusch@nujournal.com

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